Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

One of the best experiences we had while in Boston was visiting the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. Naturally, the museum is at the water though the original location has subsequently been filled in. We were maybe two blocks away from the actual historical site of the Tea Party.

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

One of the ships

Out front is the statue of one of the organizers of the Tea Party, Samuel Adams. Adams belonged to the group who called themselves The Sons of Liberty and were advocating for colonial rights and against British taxes. My children loved posing with his statue.

Another Son of Liberty

They had daughters of liberty too, didn't they?

We arrived a little early and so walked through the gift shop to Abigail's Tea Shop, where they serve a variety of refreshments.

Paul Revere in the gift shop

Abigail's Tea Room

Toddler by tea samples (after eating a snack)

Since it was 9:30 a.m., we decided to have a little snack before our 10 a.m. experience started. In addition to cookies, I ordered the "bottomless" tea cup that let customers sample the different types of tea that were thrown overboard back in 1773.

A tea dispenser

Samples of Singlo and Hyfon

Bohea tea

Congou and Souchong

I had only tried Souchong tea before, a smoky black tea that I really like. The others were okay, though the Congou caught my tongue with its flavor and my imagination with one of its alternate spellings--Kung Fu tea!

Cuppa and cookie

The shop also has vintage board games on the tables to entertain guests.

Shut the Box and Draughts

Time came for us to start our experience. Our first stop was a facsimile of the Old South Meeting House, where, on December 16, 1773, Samuel Adams held a meeting with the people of Boston to discuss the situation. Three ships (the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver) had arrived with tea that would be taxed by the British government as soon as it had been offloaded. And the cargo needed to be offloaded in twenty days. The deadline for the first ship was December 17. The Sons of Liberty had arranged a guard to keep the tea on the ship and so far were successful. One last appeal was made to the British governor to allow the ships to return to England with the tea still on board. Governor Hutchinson refused. The meeting continued into the evening but several men left, put on very basic disguises, and headed to the wharf. Interestingly, Adams along with other leaders in the Sons of Liberty stayed behind in the meeting house with the crowd so they would have an air-tight alibi for what would happen next.

We were given roles and feathers. The feathers were not for writing but to be used as a disguise--as if Native Americans were dumping the tea. Historically, the disguises were meant to protect peoples identities, not to put the blame on the natives.

My son with an invisible black feather

My daughter's stylish white feather

My feather--pointing out the speaker in the ceiling?

My role in the event

After a thorough explanation and a rousing speech from Sam Adams (or an actor portraying him, I should say), we headed out to the ships to commit either an act of treason or of patriotism. On board the ship, another fellow told us about what happened that night.

On board a recreation of one of the ships

After a brief discussion of the plan and a quick oath not to reveal what we did, we had the chance to throw some tea crates overboard.

My daughter pushes one off

My son throws one

We did a quick tour of the ship's interior, seeing where the cargo was stored. The tea was in large boxes of varying sizes. The cargo also had other items.

A patriot ready to take out the tea

Barrels of goods

The front of the ship has the captain's desk. The captain was sympathetic to the colonists' cause and agreed to let the men throw the tea overboard as long as no one was injured and no other cargo was harmed. Some of the sailors even helped out, though they may have been keeping the colonists from getting to excited just as much as they were participating in the act.

Captain's desk

Ship's galley

Back on deck, we had a chance to explore a bit before moving on. Our guide, a lady who had a brother among the tea raiders, gave us some pointers.

On deck with our guide

Trying to steer

The call to leave the ship

The actual event took about three hours. The tea had to be pulled up from the hold before it could be tossed over. As a demonstration, our guide showed the benefits of having multiple pulleys for raising the crates out of the hold (the old block-and-tackle routine). My son was picked out of the crowd to demonstrate the ease of using an extra pulley.

Two set-ups

Trying the first (more difficult) crate

She's impressed with his second effort

She also gave us a description of other item on board, including lemons, china from which to serve the tea (stored in those barrels), and coal.

Display of goods

Our tour then went indoors and we saw some impressive displays (including talking paintings) about the aftermath of the Tea Party and the Battle of Concord and Lexington. They also have on display a surviving tea chest that a boy found washed up on the shore. Pictures weren't allowed in the museum, so you'll have to go see for yourself.

The experience was about an hour and a half long, so we decided to have lunch at Abigail's Tea Room. I had the New England Clam Chowder and a half sandwich, which was yummy.


The whole thing was very impressive and well executed. Even though the cost is a bit pricey, it was well worth it.

The other identities

Our feathers, which are marked for the occasion

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Book Review: Irredeemable Premier Ed. Vol. 3 by M. Waid et al.

Irredeemable Premier Edition Volume 3 written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Peter Krause and Diego Barreto, colors by Andrew Dalhouse and Nolan Woodard, and letters by Ed Dukeshire

The Plutonian's mad rampage of destruction has stopped now that his old partner, Samsara, is back from the dead. He doesn't realize that Modeus, his greatest foe, has secretly had himself transferred into Samsara's corpse as a way to protect himself from Plutonian's wrath. What better hiding spot than in the faithful sidekick? Unfortunately, Modeus can't maintain the facade forever.

Meanwhile, Plutonian's ex-teammates are still looking for a way to take him down. One member, Cary, has combined his powers with those of his dead twin-brother and now is as powerful as the Plutonian. He's reimagined himself as Survivor. When the team discovers a plan to remove the Plutonian that actually works, Survivor takes on the role of world restorer. In his monomania to be the new greatest hero, he makes an awful lot of promises, like allowing super-powered criminals to help out in fixing the Earth, thus gaining a pardon for previous crimes. The planet may have traded one crazy ex-superhero for another.

The story takes many wild turns and twists, some enjoyable, some smart, some disturbing, some disappointing. I still appreciate it enough to finish the story with volume 4 but I find it less and less recommendable.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Visiting Fenway Park

My son and I caught a game at Fenway Park while we were on our Boston trip. The Red Sox played the Philadelphia Phillies in their second home game. The first game went into extra innings the night before with the Sox victorious. We wondered what our game would be like.

The stadium has a lot of stuff built up around it, especially overpriced parking, food, and souvenirs. I couldn't believe one sign that said parking was forty-five dollars!

Walking in to the stadium

By Gate D, our entrance

Our seats were up in the bleachers, with almost a great view of the field. We were under the upper deck, which turned out to be handy when it rained later. But the structural support was in just the wrong spot for us.

View from our seats--great except for the pitching mound!

Unobstructed outfield view

The park is the oldest baseball park in America and one of the more iconic. A famous feature is the Green Monster, the extra-tall wall in left field that prevents many big hits from becoming home runs (which happened at least three times during our game). 

The famous Green Monster

I was surprised to see that the stats board at the bottom of the Green Monster is still run with someone changing the numbers on panels. Occasionally a small window would open and we could see someone watching the game from inside the wall.

Up and to the right of the Green Monster is a more typical video scoreboard. It was also surprising because they tried to make it look like an old-fashioned wooden display.

The electronic scoreboard

Closeup with the wooden graphics (the faces kinda blow the effect)

We made it in time for the National Anthem and the first pitch. The game started off well, with the Red Sox getting three outs in rapid succession.

Beginning of the game

The game was a slow battle with a few scores here and there. The game was always very close. During the third inning, we bought some Fenway Franks as a little extra dinner and a chance to have the true ballpark experience. 

Footlong Fenway Frank

My son enjoying the frank while enjoying the game

In between innings, one of the tributes was to the ballpark workers who had the highest customer satisfaction ratings.

Ballpark heroes

The true heroes were the players, who slugged it out as the evening went on. The score was tied by the ninth inning and they went on to extra innings with rain on and off. 

My camera didn't catch the rain

We stayed through the eleventh inning (about 11:15 at night) and then took a cab home. The Sox were able to score in the twelfth to clinch the game, 4-3. It was a lot of fun and we were happy even if we didn't stay to the happy end.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Movie Review: The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) directed by Colm McCarthy

A bunch of children are held in a subterranean facility where they are taught by Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton). She treats them as children and has a certain affection for them. But they are strapped into wheelchairs that include head restraints while they are not in their cells. Military personnel move the kids back and forth from the cells and the classroom. And another adult, Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close), is constantly quizzing them to test their intelligence. The most intelligent is Melanie (Sennia Nanua) who is certainly a prodigy. But she, like her fellow students, is also a zombie. They only show the desire to eat others when they can smell them. The adults have developed a gel to mask their scent, so the facility is seemingly secure.

There's been an infectious outbreak that has killed or zombiefied most adults. These adults are fast moving and completely sub-rational--if they are not attacking living things, they stand around almost like statues. The small group of zombie children is both rational and hungry for flesh, an odd circumstance that leads Caldwell to think there's a cure locked away inside of them. She's the classic scientist who wants to solve the problem regardless of the cost. She doesn't think there's a human cost to dissecting the children to harvest their brains and spinal cords, something Justineau completely disagrees with. The base is overrun. The two women, Melanie, and a few soldiers escape into the countryside. As they go, more is revealed about Melanie and about the horror they are going through.

The movie isn't just an apocalyptic survival story, it's more a meditation on human nature and how we treat others. In addition to the tension between the two women, the soldiers are very wary of Melanie even though she is always helpful and calm. She even warns them when she needs to eat so she won't go feral on them. The plot starts rather conventionally but the ending is not at all conventional. Parts of it are hard to watch (like a proper horror film) but the ideas are fascinating and well worth thinking about (also like a proper horror film).


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Minute Man National Historic Park

We did a quick a visit to the Minute Man National Historic Park in Massachusetts (on our way to Boston, so get ready for a bunch of Boston posts, dear reader). We parked at the Minute Man Visitor Center on the eastern end of the park. The park extends from Lexington in the east to Concord in the west, a four mile stretch along Route 2A.

Minute Man Visitor Center

The center has the usual interpretive exhibits about the battle. On April 18, 1775, the British forces in Boston decided to raid Concord, Massachusetts, where the colonials were stockpiling munitions.

Recreation of various munitions

A spy found out about the plan and warned some of the patriots. They sent Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn the colonials in the countryside. Dawes and Revere took separate routes out of Boston--Dawes to the south through Cambridge and Revere to the north through Charlestown. They met up near Lexington around midnight and met Samuel Prescott, who joined them in raising the alarm. On the west side of Lexington, the trio encountered some British officers who attempted to capture them. Prescott jumped his horse over a wall and he got away. Dawes also dodged capture. Revere was held for a while and then released.

Paul Revere

Dr. Samuel Prescott

By 5 a.m. the British Regulars arrived in Lexington where seventy-seven militiamen were assembled on the town green. The colonial officer told his men not to fire. The British seemed like they would pass but then they advanced on the green. A shot was fired though no one knows which side fired. The British killed eight colonials; the colonials dispersed and the British continued on to Concord.

In Concord, several hundred militia had gathered outside of town. They saw the British enter town and began to see smoke rising. They thought the town was being burned so they assembled by the North Bridge. The British opened fire and the battle was begun.

The British began a long retreat back to Boston, fighting a running battle with an ever-increasing colonial militia. At Lexington the British had some reinforcements as they continued on to Boston. By the end of the day, the British had 73 dead and 174 wounded; the colonials had 49 dead and 41 wounded.

The visitor center has a very informative and detailed video presentation of the battle. The portion of the trail from the parking lot to the center had some signs describing the battle and route. We didn't make it to any of the extant houses and bridges because we were on our way to Boston and time was running short. We hope to come back and see more on another trip.

Outdoor sign

Map of the British retreat

Rest of the map